On Tuesday 29th March, we had the privilege of welcoming Major General Arthur Denaro CBE DL (R65) to Downside to speak to our Sixth Form as part of their Sixth Form Lecture Series.

He inspired us by sharing from his wealth of experience about the importance of being caring, open and professional leaders who model integrity through our lives and actions. Angus, Deputy Head Boy, introduced the talk. He summarised Major General Denaro’s distinguished career in order to set the scene for the talk on leadership which followed.

Major General Denaro started by talking of his Downside days and his family’s extensive links with the School and with the British Armed Forces over generations, including in both world wars. His career began when he was commissioned into the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars where he commanded tank troops in the British Army. We enjoyed hearing of his exploits in Oman as a member of the UK Special Forces. Prestigious appointments followed including commanding his Regiment in the war to liberate Kuwait in 1991. His account of his meeting with an American commander in the Kuwaiti desert was a humorous anecdote. 

Major General Denaro mentioned less about his significant involvement in the Balkans conflict during the late 1990s where he was the Chief of Staff of 44,000 troops from over 30 countries. Towards the end of his career, he became Commandant of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst for three years where he trained international graduates in the art of leadership and the skills of management. He was also the Middle East adviser to the UK’s Secretary of State for Defence for six years until 2002.  Even in retirement, his experience continues to be valued. His current appointments include being a Trustee of the Prince’s Trust, Adviser to the Crown Prince of Bahrain and Extra Equerry to His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales. 

Major General Denaro answered questions on topics as diverse as faith and fighting to his proudest achievement and greatest regret, the latter being not having given people enough time when they are in need.

Eight of us enjoyed further conversation with Major General Denaro and Mr Hobbs over lunch which gave us the opportunity to explore topics in greater depth. Overall it was our privilege to have Major General Denaro share so freely with the current generation of Gregorians as we prepare for whatever the future holds for each of us.